SOGI...So What? Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Human Rights Discourse at the United Nations
(2014) 3:1 Can J Hum Rts 1
38 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2014 Last revised: 15 Jun 2021
Date Written: September 1, 2014
This paper presents a critical appraisal of the “term of inclusion” by which issues related to sexual and gender diversity are being incorporated into international human rights discourse at the United Nations (UN): the category “sexual orientation and gender identity” or SOGI. The analysis maps the evolution of SOGI in the UN context and highlights three potential risks of a human rights discourse built on SOGI in the international context: 1) the marginalization of trans people, gender expression and intersex people in rights discourse; 2) the entrenchment of Western-based identity categories that lack applicability across contexts; and 3) the simple addition of SOGI to existing human rights discourses, resulting in fragmented and unpredictable norms related to sexual and gender diversity. The paper concludes that in the same moment that we celebrate the progress made by SOGI in advancing human rights related to sexual and gender diversity, we must continue to engage the potential risks and unintended consequences of relying on SOGI to ground international human rights discourse.
Keywords: human rights, United Nations, sexual orientation, gender identity
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation